What is Learnapalooza? It’s a community-based festival offering free workshops and classes lead by volunteers and hosted by local businesses. This year’s Logan Square Learnapalooza takes place on Sunday, September 22 all day in various Logan Square locations. Classes include: » Read the rest of this entry «
Check out MAPH Alumnus Greg Langen’s (’13) reflections on his internship at the Odyssey Project. Also be sure to see the Odyssey Project’s latest issue of In Medias Res, edited by Greg Langen.
A liberal arts education is, on the graduation speech level, freedom granting. With the powers of critical thinking and a strong (passable) handle on the English language, no area of culture is barred to those with BAs and the like. MAPH free since June ‘13, I know this notion well. As a humanities masters student I am free to read, free to write, free to deconstruct the laden societal assumptions perpetuated by YouTube commercials, free to know that my notion of the obviousness of my liberal subjecthood is much more complicated than I know or can escape (Althusser fans?), free to alienate nearly everyone around me at one (multiple) point(s) in our relationship (Feel free to skip this section). However, a thing that nobody tells you while you are in the process of freeing your mind (but that all creatures of institutions secretly know) is that freedom can be suffocating. I discovered this on my first day at the Odyssey Project when my boss, the lovely and impassioned Amy Thomas Elder, sat down with me to talk about my class for the upcoming summer. “You are free to do whatever you want,” she told me. “I don’t want to get in your way.” » Read the rest of this entry «
Tim Fosbury, MAPH ’12, reflections on the MAPH year and his internship at the Project on Civic Reflection.
Two phrases stick out in my mind from my MAPH year. First is David Wray’s assertion, during one of our first core lectures no less, that we could expect MAPH to be a sort of “P90X for the soul.” Those words stuck right away and proved correct in many ways, most of them good. Second was something I heard from various mentors, advisors, and professors. This was the idea that “as humanities scholars, it is easy to forget that we are actually a part of humanity.” That is, we spend so much time reading, critiquing, and analyzing humanity, that we often inadvertently forget to participate in it. This separation was something I tried to avoid, but during the drudges of thesis and seminar paper time – those days when I started having imaginary conversations with Cormac McCarthy and the Judge from Blood Meridian began taunting me in my dreams -I began paying more and more attention to those second set of words. So, I then started to look for outlets where I could take my academic training beyond the classroom.
I was lucky when the Project on Civic Reflection was offered as one of the internships this past summer. Based on their website and the internship description, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d be doing with the organization, but there was something that drew me to it. All I knew going in was that PCR facilitated discussions, and trained facilitators to lead their own discussions, with community and civic organizations around the country. But I soon learned that these were not typical discussions that revolved around the illusion of solving large problems in an hour or creating action plans full of empty verbiage. Rather, they were spaces of reflection on why we do the work we do, or what we expect to accomplish in civic work, with no pressure to resolve anything, but only to consider closely these larger themes. And during my internship I was lucky enough to participate in discussions that ranged from education to idealism in non-profit work to racism and segregation in Chicago. What impressed me in each discussion was how the PCR model was able to bring people together from various backgrounds and foster serious and considered dialogue.
I first heard about the Odyssey Project during a “What am I going to do with my life?” conversation with Hilary Strang, who teaches Critical Thinking and Writing to Odyssey students. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into, other than what I knew from the description on the Illinois Humanities Council website: “The Odyssey Project provides a college-level introduction to the humanities through text-based seminars led by professors at top-tier colleges and universities to help adults with low incomes more actively shape their own lives and the lives of their families and communities.” This sounded compelling, but my true motivation at the time was gaining some solid tutoring experience for future job applications. I began tutoring with the OP in January, which meant I hung out at Robust Coffee Lounge on 63rd and Woodlawn for an hour or two on Saturdays. To get familiarized with the students and the course content, I began sitting in on weekly U.S. history classes. During the first day, students voiced their personal perceptions of America, and I was hooked. These students were eager to participate, brutally honest, and ready to learn. Attending the classes and meeting students during the Saturday writing workshops was a learning experience for myself; not only was I reading new texts that I had always meant to read but never got around to, but I was meeting students, hearing their individual stories, and learning how the Odyssey Project was directly impacting their lives.
Although I was familiar with the OP through my tutoring experience, this internship has given me the opportunity to really dive into the inner workings of the organization and learn about the variety of often-unseen responsibilities that go into non-profit administration. I was unsure what to expect going in, so I was surprised by how much independence and responsibility I have as an intern. I feel like I am actually able to do significant work within the organization, such as developing new events and workshops to provide continuing resources to enrich and sustain the community of OP alumni. I was given the opportunity to design and lead a creative writing workshop on my own, which was the most amazing (and nerve-wracking) experience. Searching for relevant readings, developing in-class writing exercises, and leading weekly workshops of about fifteen students without direct guidance was scary at first, but I now feel much more confident in my ability to design curriculum and teach adults. But even more than that, leading the workshop was a way for me to get to know the students that this organization serves; learning their stories and hearing how the Odyssey Project has affected their lives has shown me that I am working for an organization that I can really believe in. It may sound hokey, but this mentality is quite a change from my past jobs at hair salons and property management companies—this is a job where I am actually excited to come into work to see what else can be done to help make the Project even better.
MAPH ’12, focus in American Literature
In the midst of final papers and thesis work, all of MAPH was encouraged (at the time, “harassed” seemed like the proper word) to think beyond the last harrowing weeks of school and apply to the summer internships offered through the program. Looking at the list, I was both confused and intrigued by the Odyssey Project. After I did a little research and talked to Hilary Strang, I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to combine my interests in humanities scholarship with a growing desire to get involved with the kind of socially progressive work done by non-profit organizations like the Illinois Humanities Council. After I took the Teaching in the Community College course offered by MAPH, I became more concerned with the social and economic barriers facing many adults who want to pursue higher education. The Odyssey Project tries to eliminate more of these barriers than any other educational institution that I am aware of—even covering bus fare and providing childcare during the classes.
Anna Piepmeyer graduated from MAPH in 2007. She thought she had a pretty clear idea of what came after the Program. “Like most people, I had assumed it was a PhD and that I’d be an English professor,” she told me during a phone conversation. Anna spent the first half of the year thinking “I was going further on.”
Today, you’ll find Anna working as the Program Director for Open Books, a Chicago-based non-profit organization. She characterized the group as “a business-minded non-profit.” Open Books uses proceeds from its retail bookstore in conjunction with donations and a network of volunteers to provide literacy programming for Chicago school children.
In her current role, Anna oversees four different programs under the Open Books umbrella–all centered on the provision of one-on-one attention for students in various areas of reading and writing. In the “Adventures in Creative Writing” program, for example, students are encouraged to write from their own experiences. “We’re all about students exploring their own lives,” Piepmeyer said. Characterizing the scope of these experiences, she added that stories range in content from ” Six Flags to gang violence.” Programs take place on-site, and according to Anna, over 3,000 students have been to Open Books on field trips this year. The organization also sends volunteers to eleven area schools to give students the opportunity to work closely on their literacy skills.
Speaking of how to decide what to do after MAPH, Anna said, “There are a lot of other things you can do using your degree in interesting ways.” She highlighted that networking and starting early are keys to being successful in getting a job after graduation.
Anna encourages current MAPH students and alums to check out Open Books. The store has 50,000 used books, and proceeds go toward funding the organization. More information can be found at Open Books’ Website.
MAPH alum Hallie Palladino is teaching a six-week playwriting class through Loyola Continuum.
Have you been putting your writing on the back burner and you’re looking for a way to push yourself back into it? Do you have an idea that would make a great one-act play? Or maybe you know someone else who might be interested. If you can pass the word along I would be very grateful. The class will be an introduction for beginners and an opportunity to continue an ongoing project for more experienced writers. Either way it will be lots of fun!
The class meets on Monday nights from 6:30-8:30pm at the Lakeshore Campus (that’s the big Loyola Campus in Rogers Park) March 15 – April 26 (don’t worry, no class on Passover, March 29th).
Anna Piepmeyer (MAPH ’07) is the Ambassador of Awesomeness for the new peer networking site, Dweeber (think of her as the equivalent to Tom of MySpace; if you join the site, she is automatically your friend). This site, however, distances itself from other peer networking sites, sites that usually serve as distractions to things like school work by actually serving to specifically help students with their homework and school assignments. Catering most predominantly to primary and secondary school age groups (though I can imagine this being helpful even in MAPH situations, especially in trying to figure out Core material!), the site lets its users see what assignments their friends are doing so that they can work on assignments together, ask each other questions, post helpful web links, give directions, etc.
» Read the rest of this entry «
MAPH Alum Kristin Scott shares her very insightful advice on how to get your foot in the door when applying for teaching positions. Thanks Kristin!
Some advice for new MAPH graduates and those looking for their first teaching positions:
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a few folks come my way asking about how to get their foot in that often hard-to-open teaching door. » Read the rest of this entry «
Among the many great teachers that have emerged from the ranks of MAPH, this post was submitted by former MAPHer and current teacher Conor O’Sullivan. Conor graduated from MAPH in 2007 and remains in the Chicago-area as a private school teacher.
For the two years between finishing my undergraduate degree and starting MAPH, I taught high school and middle school English at the Roxbury Latin School, an independent boys’ school in Boston. While I loved teaching, and loved working and interacting with bright, motivated students even more, I knew that if I did not apply to graduate schools soon, I would reach a point of no return and end up teaching for the rest of my life. » Read the rest of this entry «
One of our goals with the afterMAPH is to be a forum for our alums to talk about what they do, and carry on some of the kinds of conversations they began at MAPH. In that spirit I present this post by our guest author Kristin Scott. Kristin Scott is a MAPH alum currently teaching at Columbia College.
Speaking of blogs . . . I am very interested to hear from those of you who teach and have been utilizing various forms of technology within your pedagogy. When I first started teaching at Columbia College Chicago (English & Cultural Studies Departments) a bit over three years ago, I was fairly unsure of how to incorporate technology into the classroom and admittedly a bit hesitant to do so. I didn’t want to “dumb down” the curriculum by turning to popular media/technological tools or use them as some crutch for effective teaching. » Read the rest of this entry «